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Full text of "A history of Persia"

CHAP. LI     DECAY OF THE CALIPHATE           83
built a new palace which cost untold sums of money.
Connected with it is the legend of Kishmar, already
mentioned in Chapter IX. as the meeting-place of
Zoroaster and King Gustasp. It is stated that in order
to commemorate this event the Prophet of Iran planted
a cypress, which grew to a prodigious size and was
regarded as sacred by the Zoroastrians. The fanatical
Caliph ordered the tree, which was believed by that time
to be 1450 years old, to be felled, and, although large
sums were offered to save it, it was cut down and trans-
ported in sections to Samarra ; but according to the
legend Mutawakkil was slain by his son on the day these
reached the palace. The story has some value as indicat-1
ing the hold that Zoroastrianism still retained in the
province then known as Kuhistan. Incidentally, too, it
affords some help towards fixing the date of the meeting
between Zoroaster and Gustasp.
The Tahiri Dynasty^ A.H. 205-259 (820-872).
Mention has already been made of Tahir, the famous
general of Mamun who governed Khorasan. Under his
sons Nishapur succeeded Merv as the capital of what was
a semi-independent dynasty holding sway in Khorasan
for over half a century. The princes of this family were
unambitious and made no attempt to fish in troubled
waters, and the dynasty collapsed with little resistance
when attacked by the Saffarids in A.H. 259 (872). In
1909 I came across a small section of the Tahiri tribe
in the district of Turshiz to the south of Nishapur ; 1 was
also informed that irrigation pipes are occasionally found
stamped with the name of this dynasty.1
A Period of Anarchy, A.H. 247-256 (861-870).
Mutawakkil having alienated his eldest son, Muntassir, by
grossly abusing him when under the influence of drink, a
conspiracy of Turkish officers was formed in the interest
of the heir-apparent, and the Caliph was murdered in his
sleep. Muntassir succeeded, but died within a year, and
a period of anarchy ensued, during which Baghdad under-
went a second siege, and the Turkish soldiers made and
murdered caliphs at their pleasure. Rebellions, too,
1 Journal R.G.S. for February 1911.